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Friday, October 08, 2004

Nice Little Paper You Got There. Shame If Anything Happened to It 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot M.U.: If you were wondering how the good people of Crawford, TX, reacted to the editorial endorsement of John Kerry by the local weekly, wonder no longer. There are some icons even the Lone Star Iconoclast shouldn't oughta mess with:
We expected that perhaps a few readers might cancel subscriptions, and maybe even ads, but have been amazed at a few of the more intense communications, some of which bordered on outright personal attacks and uncalled-for harassment.

We have been told by several avid Bush supporters that the days when newspapers publish editorials without personal repercussions are over. As publishers, we have printed editorials for decades, and have endorsed candidates, both Republican and Democrat. When Bush was endorsed four years ago, the Gore supporters did not respond with threats, nor did Democrats when we endorsed Reagan twice. Republicans did not threaten us personally or our business when we endorsed Carter and Clinton for their first terms.

In the past, when individuals disagreed with an editorial, they would write a letter to the editor politely expressing a different point of view in contrast to the views of the publishers, which we have usually published. Occasionally someone would cancel a subscription or an ad, but this was rare . . . .

The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community . . . .

Unfortunately, for the Iconoclast and its publishers there have been threats — big ones including physical harm.

Too, some individuals are threatening innocent commercial concerns, claiming that if they advertise in The Iconoclast, they will be run out of business. We consider this improper in a democracy.

Several young members of our staff covering Tonkawa Traditions this past weekend were angrily harassed and threatened that they must leave, which cut short their ability to fully do their jobs and instilled in them considerable fear for their safety. These reporters had nothing to do with that editorial. They were part-time college students working to pay their way through school and better themselves.

From the period of Tuesday through noon Saturday of this past week, The Iconoclast has received over 700 letters to the editor related to the editorial which received more attention than we had expected. Some of the dispatches are very critical and some are very supportive of the editorial. And a few do offer a thoughtful, differing point of view on the issues, which we do appreciate . . . .

To publish them in the print edition would require substantially too much space (about 30 pages, in our estimation). So go to www.iconoclast-texas.com if you want to peruse the letters.
You will perhaps be pleased to know that the majority of the letters, and the vast majority of the grammatical ones, were favorable. Correspondents from around the country wrote in to congratulate the editors on their courage.

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